TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
Mrs. Bast's son, caught the rats, and cut the grass,
They had the builders. Attended with the creak-
ing of hinges and the screeching of bolts, the
slamming and banging of damp-swollen wood-
work, some rusty laborious birth seemed to be
taking place, as the women, stooping, rising, groan-
ing, singing, slapped and slammed, upstairs now
now down in the cellars. Oh, they said, the work!
They drank their tea in the bedroom some-
times, or in the study; breaking off work at
mid-day with the smudge on their faces, and their
old hands clasped and cramped with the broom
handles. Flopped on chairs they contemplated
now the magnificent conquest over taps and bath ;\
now the more arduous, more partial triumph
over long rows of books, black as ravens once,
now white-stained, breeding pale mushrooms and
secreting furtive spiders. Once more, as she felt
the tea warm in her, the telescope fitted itself to
Mrs. McNab's eyes, and in a ring of light she
saw the old gentleman, lean as a rake, wagging
his head, as she came up with the washing,
talking to himself, she supposed, on the lawn.
He never noticed her. Some said he was dead;
some said she was dead. Which was it? Mrs.
Bast didn't know for certain either. The young
gentleman was dead. That she was sure. She
had read his name in the papers.